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Mercy Jelagat: I Quit My Well-Paying Engineering Job To Strike Gold In The Art Of Wood Carving

Mercy Jelagat, popularly known as Almasi, embarked on a remarkable journey that defied convention and led her to discover her true passion in the tranquil town of Lamu.

Despite her background in engineering, she found her calling in the intricate world of wood carving, creating exquisite pieces that showcase her artistic prowess.

Two years ago, Almasi embarked on a domestic tourist trip to Lamu, an island known for its enchanting landscapes and rich cultural heritage.

During this trip, she stumbled upon local shops showcasing the intricate beauty of wooden carvings.

Mesmerized by the craftsmanship, she felt an inexplicable connection to the art form, igniting a flame of passion that would soon consume her.

“I had always been captivated by art, and when I saw the remarkable wood carvings that the carpenters in Lamu were creating, I knew I had found my true calling,” Almasi reminisces, her eyes lighting up with the memory of that moment.

Inspired and driven by this newfound passion, Almasi made a life-altering decision.

She chose to resign from her secure job in the Kenyan government, bid farewell to her engineering career, and relocated to Lamu to pursue her artistic dreams.

Upon her arrival in Lamu, Almasi wasted no time in immersing herself in the world of wood carving.

She sought out Skanda, a renowned wood carving expert, and enrolled in his workshop.

For six months, she dedicated herself wholeheartedly to mastering the craft, diligently learning the intricate techniques and honing her skills.

However, her transition to a new life was far from easy. The challenges she faced were as daunting as they were diverse.

Convincing her parents, who had envisioned a stable future for her in engineering, to support her unconventional career choice was an emotional hurdle.

Additionally, gaining acceptance within the local community, where traditional norms often held sway, proved to be a test of her perseverance.

“Starting a new life in Lamu was no easy task,” Almasi admits, reflecting on the challenges she encountered.

“Convincing my parents to support my decision to leave a high-paying job and pursue wood carving was a hurdle in itself. But I knew deep down that this was where my true peace of mind resided.”

With resilience as her guiding force, Almasi persevered. Over time, she earned the trust of her fellow artisans and became an integral part of the local wood carving community.

Her dedication and passion shone through, breaking down barriers and dispelling doubts.

Today, at the age of 32, she crafts exquisite items such as trays, spoons, and candle boxes, all meticulously carved from wood.

Each piece she creates carries not only her artistic vision but also the story of her journey – a journey marked by courage, determination, and unwavering passion.

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